Villages Belwa and Jhajhawa are ‘harijan bastis’ with 35 and 31 Households respectively, in Kushinagar District, UP. The hamlets have had no electricity since independence and kerosene was the only source of lighting. Mrida, in league with Mahindra & Mahindra, under the MPowered village concept, conducted a baseline survey, which threw up issues and needs. A project for the holistic development of the two villages was started in mid 2015 through energy access as a sustainable tool.
The initiatives undertaken were:
2 Solar Micro-grids each in Villages Jhajhawa & Belwa with 31 & 21 connections respectively
Community Lighting: A total of 19 Solar LED street lights were put up in the two villages, programmed to switch on at dusk and switch off at dawn
An E-Hub was established for furthering education, e-Commerce & entertainment
Clean Transportation Solution was given via the e-rickshaw. Lack of public transport had emerged as a major concern during the baseline survey, so the e-rickshaw came as a boon
Village Development Committees were formed in both the villages – 7 members in each. An integral component of the MPowered Village is the Village Development Committee (VDC), a motivated, enthusiastic group of villagers – the Leadership Team of the future – selected and trained by M&M and Mrida
The VDC oversees all development activities in the village, including selection of Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE), organizing various activities and initiatives, collecting the proceeds and managing funds. Extensive training, guidance and support has been given and is still in process, with the expectation that the VDC will progressively take full charge of the entire initiative, thereby making it self-sustaining. Mrida and M&M, on their part, plan to scale up the initiative to establish many more MPowered villages across the country.
Taking the initiative further, training programs for maintenance of Micro-grids & Solar Street Lights are conducted. The trained villagers become Urja Mitras of the region.
Livelihood generation activity like basket weaving, local handicrafts, paper bag manufacturing, ‘dhori’ making, etc. have been identified as a source of livelihood. The VDC has purchased 4 fruit/vegetable carts that are rented out to the villagers. This is turning out to be another good avenue for revenue generation. A health & sanitation drive is currently being undertaken and agricultural interventions & other livelihood generation activities are ongoing. Adult education has also been taken up in the region.
These initiatives have empowered the villagers and today they can see their future brightening.